Scenery, historical settings and outdoor adventure are all waiting for families who venture to the New River Gorge National River area in West Virginia! This lush travel destination is just an hour’s drive Southeast of Charleston, WV. Our family took a short weekend visit to the area, and I was pleasantly surprised to find so much to do. We started with a drive over the historic New River Gorge Bridge, which is the largest single steel span bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
We found a folksy National Park Service visitor center and a scenic walkway for viewing the bridge without having to hike very far. The free or low-cost Junior Ranger books found at the visitor center offered ideas for keeping the kids occupied.
We took a scenic drive down a country road that wound down to the lower part of New River, where we got out of our car to watch whitewater rafting. Rapids in the area range from mild Class I to dangerous Class V. With 70,000 acres in the park area, a multitude of hiking or biking opportunities abound in addition to rafting and kayaking.
A scenic drive farther into the countryside took us to Glade Creek Grist Mill and a setting with rustic cabins available for rent.
We found just enough gentle walking paths to keep everyone busy one morning. If you’re packing picnic lunches, it’s an easy place to dine amid the natural beauty. However, restaurant choices seemed limited in the area.
My husband earned some serious points by discovering Smokey’s on the Gorge restaurant for dinner. He only chose it because it advertised a buffet. What he didn’t know until we got there is it’s a gourmet buffet. He would have earned even more points if he’d booked our lodging at nearby Adventures on the Gorge resort.
We also spent time during this visit at a historic coal mining museum nearby. It was worth setting aside a couple of extra hours before our return home. The scenery in particular was a reminder being open minded about travel possibilities can help you discover the wild and wonderful in unlikely places. Here’s to the natural beauty of West Virginia!